How To Use Quilting Stencils – Complete Guide For Beginners!


Let’s face it, the world of quilting may be somewhat perplexing for a novice. There always appears to be a slew of new approaches and tools that you need to master. Some of these, on the other hand, may actually make things easier. And none are more underappreciated than stencils. In fact, some quilters have been doing so for a long time before they come upon these useful tools.

So, to make sure you’re not caught off guard when you need to know how to use quilting stencils, we’ve put together a handy guide with all the essential details.

What Is A Quilting Stencil?

Simply defined, it’s a guiding tool for marking out designs directly on your quilt top. Quilting stencils are often composed of thin, slightly opaque plastic for the convenience of application. Sometimes, you also see some research related to how to use plastic quilting stencils.

how to use plastic quilting stencils

However, some are composed of light screen fabric. Furthermore, depending on the pattern you want to make, quilt stencils come in various forms and styles.  Quilting borders stencils, flower patterns, and Celtic motifs are among the most popular quilting stencil designs.

Please keep in mind that stencils come in a variety of sizes. As a result, you should always select a size that is appropriate for your clothing.

What Do You Need?

1. A stencil of your choice, which you may either buy ready-made or create yourself

2. A scribbling instrument of some sort

  • EZ washout pencils are available in a variety of colors. Try a few different colors to see which one works best for you. They should wash out of most materials, but check the labels to be sure.
  • Marks disappear without washing with air soluble marker/pens.
  • Fabric mechanical pencils with a built-in eraser for erasing extra lines.
  • Chalk, tailor’s chalk works well, but it can be brushed away too easily.
  • The Quilt pounce is the fastest way to get your designs onto the quilt. The tool is filled with chalk and you literally “pounce” and swipe across the fabric to transfer the design.

3. Your quilt

Learning to make your own stencil quilting is more cost-effective in the long run. The possibilities are unlimited, and the process is quite straightforward. You print or create your design, then tape the plastic sheet on top and use your preferred tool to mark it.

How to Use Quilting Stencils

After you’ve chosen the best stencil for your project, you’ll need to learn how to use it. So, to make things a little easier for you, here are some fundamentals: Quilt top

stencil, marking tools (chalk pencils, water-soluble pens, or pounce pads).

Step 1

It’s fairly simple to utilize a quilting stencil in its most basic form. You’ll also need something to use to mark the fabric. Simply set the stencil on your fabric where you want the quilting design to appear, and then draw over the lines with a chalk pencil, Frixion pen, or even a pounce pad.

the quilting design

Step 2

Use the lines as a guide while sewing to get flawless machine-quilted patterns on every quilt! When we issued our first collaboration with Karlee back in issue 64, we included a set of her quilting stencils as our gift with the magazine; we prepared this simple video introduction to utilize them. Take a look if you’re new to quilting stencils: How to use our quilting templates

Besides, you can watch the video below to get more ideas on how to use quilting stencils:

how to use our quilting templates

Bonus Tips On Using Quilting Stencils

  • Quilting stencils are constructed of a lightweight, slightly opaque plastic that is ideal for laying down on the intended area to illustrate how much space can be filled.
  • It’s also possible to utilize half of a stencil design for a corner, which may be seen by laying the stencil on the quilt block, or only the center of a stencil if you’re sure it’ll fit in the intended region.
  • Simply encase the cable with straight stitching lines on each side to change a design that is a bit too small.
  • A border pattern, Julie notes, is frequently a repetition design. Try using a border stencil that terminates in a diamond form as a clever approach. Then, to tie the pattern together, have both sides terminate in a diamond.
  • For a border, use a stencil with a built-in corner curve and keep the design consistent all the way around. When you learn how to use stencils for machine quilting, you may often produce a continuous line by adding a loop or a curve of your own to make the pattern fit!

What About Machine Quilting Stencils?

Get to know your machine

So to speak, take it out to dinner first. Tension settings, needle sizes, and thread weights should all be understood. Every quilting machine model, in my opinion, can produce stunning works of art, but they are only as good as their operator! When you look after them, they will look after you.

Enjoy the practice time

When people wonder how I obtain such perfect pebbles, I tell them I’ve quilted over 10 yards of nothing but pebbles! It will take time to master anything you wish to learn.

People often only see my finished works and don’t realize that a piece that took me thousands of hours of practice to complete now takes me less than an evening.

Make quilts for you!

“Unless someone is paying you money to sew for them, don’t heed their opinion on your quilts,” I say every time I have an audience. Create quilts that bring you joy.

Keep cheap fabric on hand quilting stencils for practice sessions

Purchase the cheapest solid fabric you can find, cut it into fat quarters, and construct a stash of quilt sandwiches. Use one of those spare quilt sandwiches to experiment with a new quilting technique, whether it’s a free motion motif, a stencil, or a marking method. It will save you a lot of time and misery in the long run.


Amazing Quilting Stencils

Now that you have a basic grasp of what quilting stencils are and how to use them, it’s time to look at some of the most outstanding options available. After much thought, these five have proven to be the most effective and long-lasting.

It’s no surprise, then, that quilters hold them in such high regard. So here are our top picks, without further ado:

Quilting creations heart stipple stencil

This stencil, which measures 9″ L by 8″ W, can be used on quilts as well as various types of apparel. While its long continuous line design makes it perfect for quilting stencils for machine quilting, the lack of intricate turns makes it simple to utilize. As a result, it is ideal for beginners. It also helps that it’s strong, long-lasting, and simple to clean.

quilting stencils for machine quilting

Quilting creations heart knot stencil

This stencil, which is made in the United States, can be used for a variety of projects. It is also made of sturdy plastic that can be cleaned with simply water and soap. As a result, you can use it over and over again for an extended period without fear. But do you know what it is about this stencil that I adore? The fact that it’s an excellent learning tool for free-motion quilting techniques.

quilting creations heart knot stencil

Quilting creations 4-piece borders quilt stencil set

You won’t find a better set of border quilting stencils than this one. It contains everything you need, with four 2” patterns. Unlike many others on the market, the stencils supplied here are composed of flexible see-through plastic and can be used on any type of sewing machine. Plus, there’s more. They’re also excellent for quilting stencils for hand quilting. These stencils are good value for money, no matter how you look at them.

Threaders TH-1219 quilting stencils

While we’re on the subject of fantastic deals, we can’t forget to highlight this Threaders stencils set. It includes all of the fundamental forms you’ll need to make an attractive quilt, with a total of four stencils. It also helps that each stencil is reusable and can be quilted by hand or machine.

Zonon 4-Piece line quilting stencil kit

This stencil set can come in handy whether you’re doing some quilting or doing some DIY crafts. Each of the four included stencils is constructed of Mylar, which is a plastic-like material. Mylar is not only flexible and resilient, but it is also child-safe. Furthermore, it is simple to clean with warm water and soap. But, to be honest, the colorful patterns aren’t the primary reason I appreciate this stencil collection; I just have a soft spot for them.

stencil collection


By the end of this article, hope that you have successfully grasped some valuable knowledge to share with your friends. All in all, choosing the proper size stencil for the area you want to quilt is the most crucial component of learning how to use quilting stencils. The design should totally or nearly completely occupy the space.

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